Finding My Inner Author: My Experience at a Tom Bird Retreat- Finding My Novel

Saturday, April 02, 2011

It is my first full day at Tom Bird’s Write Your Book in 5 Days Retreat. I awaken at 6 AM to The Star Spangled Banner. I have nothing against the song but it’s a little too much first thing in the morning. Note to self: change radio station before you go to bed tonight.

During class I see other people breaking into tears; the mentors go over to them with boxes of tissues. I don’t understand why they are crying—my problems are more physical. My lower back is in searing pain. I have difficulty sitting, can barely get out of the chair and am terrified that my back will lock up and I will be stuck in the bed at the hotel with no one to help me. Needless to say, I can not concentrate on writing—it’s like pulling taffy. Luckily, Lori is in the next room giving 20 minute sessions. She has been kept constantly busy so apparently I am not the only one having a difficult time here.

Lori squeezes me in at the end of the day. She is trying to help me connect with why I decided I should not express myself. My mind is a blank as I search for a memory. She begins a muscle stripping technique on my leg.

“It’s okay to say ow,” she says.

My hand instinctively lands on top of hers, “F*%# !”

By the time we are finished the classroom is empty.

The next day…

As far as the writing goes, so far I have some kind of download about “feelings” from Thursday night which, I swear, felt like it was channeled to me-- someone was talking to me and I was taking notes. Then yesterday, after much pleading with my muse, the universe, and anyone else who may be listening, I finally began what I hope to be my novel. Tom says I am trying to hard and to just let it flow. So, after spending the entire night crying I have decided to accept whatever comes through and not be attached to an outcome. I dab on some eye cream and head out the door. I look like a hound dog.

We are all milling around choosing seats and fetching complimentary tea from the restaurant downstairs. I take this opportunity to inquire how others are coming with their novels. The consensus is that everyone is struggling with content. Thursday night was Emotional Dump night and Friday was Get Acquainted with the Process Day. A woman walks in wearing sunglasses; apparently her eye cream didn’t do the job either.

The day progresses with the playing of Tom’s subliminal CDs (which everyone loves), our relaxation/meditation exercise prior to writing, and the timed writings. Whenever the room begins to feel heavy and the group tense, our appointed breathing coach will lead us through some deep breathing.

6 PM. We all order drinks from Red’s, the restaurant downstairs. A nice man named John picks up the tab for all 35 of us! Our writing is done for the day, now we all kick back to listen to Tom’s lecture on the world of publishing and how it is changing.

Our homework tonight is to write a query letter. On what? I have 21,415 words of mishmash! Time to talk to Tom.

“What have you got?”

“I have something about “feelings”, a fictional story that I thought would be a novel but ended up a short story, and something else that seems to be about releasing ourselves from our demons.”

“What would you like to write?”

“Well, I have a novel I’ve been toying with for about 4 years now…collecting research notes.”

“Write that,” he says. “You light up more when you mention that one. Put two hours into it tonight.”

Walking back to my room I feel unresolved. I would love to work on that project but the book I envision is more than I could write in the days I have left, isn’t it? Also, I’m not so sure I want to risk this baby… Tomorrow we are supposed to send off our query letters and from what I’ve heard agents don’t like receiving queries for unfinished manuscripts—I’d hate to be blacklisted on this one.

I need to let this set a bit. I think I’ll go take some pictures.

Robyn Chausse

Through April 7th Tom is offering a free download of his book You Were Born to Publish. Find it on his Free page.
Need to catch up with the story? I'm taking you along as I experience Tom Bird's Write Your Book in 5 Days Retreat at the beautiful Sedona Rouge Hotel. Follow these links to my previous posts. First, Second, Third, Arrival in Sedona, Class has Begun.


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